Ahaz, the son of Jotham who had just died, saw in this Assyrian the means of delivering Judah out of the hands of Pekah, king of Israel, and Rezin, king of Syria, who had joined forces to capture Jerusalem and put a king of their own on the throne of David. By a great present Ahaz bought the support of Tiglath-pileser, who sent an army to attack Judah's foes. Syria was devastated, the inhabitants were carried away captive from all the eastern and northern parts of Israel (Gilead and Galilee), Phœnicia and Philistia were overrun, and Ahaz, among other kings, went to Damascus in person to do homage to this irresistible conqueror.
In the Northern Kingdom, reduced now to little more than the central highlands of Ephraim and Manasseh, Hoshea, a protegé of the Assyrian king, reigned for a few years. But he and his foolish advisers, unable to read the signs of the times, looked to Egypt for help and revolted. This time the end had come. Shalmaneser, now on the Assyrian throne, came against Samaria, and after a siege lasting almost three years, took and destroyed it. The whole population was carried away, after the drastic policy of deportation practiced by Assyria, and an alien population was introduced to take their places. Thus ended the Northern Kingdom after lasting a little over two centuries. And thus began that strange mixed people, known as the Samaritans, who settled in the central part of the Holy Land.
The effect of Israel's doom upon the minds of the king and people of Judah may be imagined. From the pages of Micah and Isaiah, contemporary prophets in Judah, can be seen how God was speaking to Judah through the ruin of Israel. Ahaz's policy of relying on human help from Assyria instead of divine help from Jehovah was refuted by its outcome. With Syria and Samaria ruined, there lay nothing between Jerusalem and the Assyrian. And it is in Hezekiah's reign — the next after that of Ahaz — that the ruthless conqueror from Nineveh is found overrunning Judah itself. How king, prophet, and people met that crisis will begin the next lesson, for it belongs to the period when the Southern Kingdom is all that remained of the organized Hebrew nation in Palestine.
QUESTIONS ON LESSON X
1. What were the relations between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel in general?